Reporter recounts being 5 meters away from death

2017/04/26 | 00:30

(Iraq News)- This is a personal narrative of Rudaw war reporter Hunar Ahmed, whose team was covering the Mosul offensive near the southern town of Hamam al-Alil on April 23, 2017.

The Rudaw team was safe after the close call.My team set out at dawn with two other Rudaw teams toward Mosul.

Upon arrival on the right bank of the city, we parted ways with the other two teams.

We headed to the place where the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism forces were fighting ISIS.Before we got there, I contacted Brigadier Maan Saad, one of the Iraqi commanders, who told me his forces were not going to make any advances.

I then contacted the other Rudaw teams, telling them we were heading back to the place where the Iraqi Federal Police were assigned We arrived at Arej area where the Federal Police’s general command is based, waiting there for their media chief to take us to the frontlines on the right bank of Mosul.

We waited longer than normal for him to show up — compared to our experiences in the past.Suddenly, we heard shooting near us.

I thought someone was testing his weapon.

But then the firing intensified.

The police forces started to worry.

Those guarding the gates of the base reached for their guns.I along with the other Rudaw teams left our vehicles in the courtyard of the Federal Police’s headquarters.

Suddenly, a police commander came out ordering the police forces to close all gates.

He was worried that a car bomb might be on its way to the police headquarters. I approached the police commander so I could hear him talking on the radio.

I heard someone on the radio saying that ISIS has attacked and was heading to the base.

All the police forces on the base were gathered and ordered to deploy around the base.

Then four helicopters took off from the base to monitor the surroundings.Suddenly, bombing started near the base … and close to us.

Later, we would discover that an ISIS suicide bomber had been hiding in a nearby bush, and died in an explosion.

The police commander was agitated, ordering that all media channels had to leave.

At the time, I was photographing two ISIS militants while they were running away.

I called the police commander to have a look at the photos. We could see ISIS militants running away.

The police commander was so busy that had forgotten he had ordered the media to leave.

Then the commander ordered his forces to inspect the surroundings.

And we kept the company of the police forces. The forces were shooting at an ISIS militant on a small hill.

But the militants appeared to be dead.

I along with some police officers approached him.

One of them wanted to shoot at him, and I told him to be careful in case he had a bomb-laden belt. We were only 5 to 7 meters away from the militant.

His back was facing us.

I suddenly saw him move his hand, and shouted ‘pull out from here.’ As I was saying these words, he blew himself up.

I think two or three police officers were killed in the suicide attack.

I saw a police officer’s face covered in blood 20 meters away. Then we learnt three police officers had been injured in the attack.

The police forces began inspecting the area.

Four ISIS militants blew themselves up, one was injured by the police and one ran away in the attack.

Subsequently, eight people were arrested by the police on suspicion of assisting ISIS in the attack.


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